The Startling Link Between Housing and Health

Sidney Bond had been homeless for five years, living between shelters and friends’ couches, when he got a call from his counsellor with good news. He’d gotten off a wait list to move into his own subsidized apartment.

“I was so happy," said Bond. "I was running down the street and almost tripped on my face.”

When Bond was living on the street, he said, his chronic asthma and high blood pressure would flare up. He also suffered from anxiety and depression.

“Being homeless can put a strain on a person’s mind,” he said. “I was constantly worried.” Now, at age 54, Bond has been living in his own apartment for two years.

“I keep track of my medication, I go to my doctors' appointments, I see my psychiatrist, I see my therapist,” he said. “It helps me to take better care of myself.”

In the States, more and more health care organizations are making the connection between housing and health. Hospitals subsidize apartments for the homeless in Chicago, Orlando and Portland. Insurer United Healthcare has invested millions of dollars in affordable housing projects in Michigan and Wisconsin. And recently Kaiser Permanente, a health care and insurance giant, announced a $200 million investment in affordable housing.

Sidney Bond mirrors the results of recent studies that show the economic benefit of supportive housing. A program in Los Angeles, for example, saved the county 20 percent on medical and social services for those who got housing, after factoring in the cost of the program.

Based on an article by Amy Scott, Marketplace

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